Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Face of the Enemy

Allow me to repeat a story from my fascinating life. One sultry spring evening I was at the Y, tending to my beautiful body and its several athletic needs. After slightly diminishing the tremendous store of my strength and vigor, doing some phenomenal workout that only I could do, and after the applause had quited, if not the envious admiration of the large audience, I retired to the locker room.

There, the several but inadequate mirrors once again reflected, dimly, some tiny part of the radiance of my glory -- my perfectly formed torso, so frightening to normal men, sculpted into yet even more classically Greek contours -- I know, it hardly seems possible, so finely chiseled as it is.

There I stand, statuesque, just at my locker, planning on going for a swim, to give the people there their thrill for the day. But, what's this?! -- the sort of stool nearby has someone's forlorn gym bag resting on it, unattended. I do wish to sit -- shoes and socks and such -- so I look about for the owner. (I subscribe to the apparently controversial theory that seats are primarily for sitting upon.) There's someone at the sink nearby, but he's wearing a backpack, so I deduce the bag is not his.

Plunk. Bag now on floor.

"Hey vato, don't touch my fuckin' bag. What's your fuckin' problem." Oops. A social gaff. How embarrassing for me. I do it seems have a few infinitesimal flaws.

"Gee, sorry - didn't know it was yours. Nobody else around."

"Don't touch my fuckin' bag. How'd you like it if I took the shit out of your fuckin' locker there?" And he moves to my locker, then perhaps thinks better of it. But he pointedly places the bag back on the stool.

Hm. And I, a peaceful and balanced gentleman, still cannot help but notice something peremptorily disrespectful in this character's demeanor. "You know, chairs aren't for bags, mate. They're for people, to sit on."

"Fuckin' shit fuck shit."

"And you might think about not giving men orders, like they were your dog. If you have a problem with someone, in the future you might say something like, 'I'd appreciate it if you'd ask me before you handle my things.' Something like that."

"Ass fuck damn poo shit damn fuck wee."

"You may want to watch your language, too. This is a men's locker room, but it's also the Y, the Young Men's Christian Association -- I know that doesn't stand for a whole lot, but it stands for a little. This isn't just some bar."

And here's the point:

"So what you fuckin' saying? You fuckin' saying that shit, talkin' 'bout bars n shit, cuz I'm Mexican?" And he squares off on me.

I smile, slightly. I'm really enjoying this. What's up with that? I'm a peaceful guy. I am a gentleman. I haven't been in a fight in over 30 years. And this certainly isn't going to be a fight. But I'm enjoying it. That kind of irrationality amuses me. I know being amused in a situation like this is provocative, but there it is. And he squared off on me. I made deep and meaningful eye-contact with this fellow -- calm. I don't know what passed through his mind, but he stopped with the squaring off.

At this point the guy's buddy comes and gets his bag. Oh, it was his bag. Well, we allow ourselves some dramatic license. "Come on, let's just go."

"Fuck shit fuck damn shit damn ass."

"Let's go."

And off they go, one of them muttering.

For the record, yes -- it was because he was "Mexican." It didn't have anything to do with his actual conduct. It was my racism. The first thing I notice about a person is his phenotype, which I instantly correlate to a presumed genotype, and then I place him on the endless continuum of my infinite hatreds. Anyone who's not from northern Europe comes from an inferior race -- we say breed, cuz they're all like animals. In fact, I even hate northern Europeans. Even they are not enough like me. In fact, I hate myself, cuz all I know how to do is hate -- but I hate myself least of all.

Stupidity doesn't puddle. It sheets. We all have our share. But what I came face to face with that night was a personification of that particular stupidity that has at various times paraded itself through our streets, demanding the invention of new rights at the expense of justice, common sense and national survival. It is a frankly evil face, not because of some skin-tone or nose-shape or hair-color. It is evil because it is selfish and ignoble. It is vulgar not because of an offensive vocabulary, but because of its willingness, its eagerness, to falsely accuse on the one hand, and on the other, shirk every duty of civil decency.

That incident was an allegory, in which I was a merely incidental character. The hero of the piece had hardly any lines. But wow, were they good lines. Let's just go. Hear hear.

But I would have taken him apart. And I smile, slightly.


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